Over 600 San Francisco hotel workers and community members took to the streets to defend their Legal Fund from Hyatt hotel management. The UNITE HERE Local 2 Legal Fund protects members from evictions and foreclosures and facilitates legal immigration (citizenship, work permits and family reunification).
Hyatt has asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to stop UNITE HERE Local 2 from reallocating employer contributions to the hotel workers’ Legal Fund – a fund that helps workers’ families navigate immigration laws, fight foreclosures, and deal with other difficult situations. Local 2 sought to reallocate 2¢ an hour (which was previously going into a workers’ Child/Elder Care fund) in the face of increased government fees for immigration documents, and resulting strain on the Legal Fund’s reserves. Even though this change has no financial impact whatsoever on employers, and even though without this reallocation of funds workers’ might face cuts in legal assistance, Hyatt is trying to block the move in order to put pressure on workers to sign a concessionary contract.
According to Aurolyn Rush, a 15 year employee at the Grand Hyatt hotel:
At the negotiating table, Hyatt is trying to increase our health care costs, freeze our wages, freeze our pensions. At work, Hyatt housekeepers report the highest rates of injury in the country. And now, Hyatt is trying to raid our legal fund. When will their attack on working families, like mine, stop?
Community leaders from Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, SEIU 1021, ANSWER Coalition, Jobs with Justice and others joined in a delegation to urge Grand Hyatt management to embrace compassion and justice for working families struggling to stay in their homes and reunify their families. The community delegates urged Hyatt management to focus their efforts on bargaining in good faith, rather than pressuring workers to sign a contract that would lock workers into a permanent recession.
Of all the hotel employers in San Francisco, Hyatt is the only one that has filed NLRB charges, in attempts to cripple the hotel workers’ Legal Fund. Read Carl Finamore’s excellent article regarding the demonstration in BeyondChron.